When I received an invitation to a wine tasting evening at Harrods, I really didn’t know what to expect. Harrods is where royalty mixes with the rich, as epitomised by the infamous Diana and Dodi statue. I wondered about how formal it would be and if I was expected to spit. I made a mental note to mind my manners.
Located on the lower ground floor the wine room is tucked away in the refurbished wine department. The wine department is everything you would expect form Harrods, it’s huge, it’s gorgeous, and it has some very exclusive (expensive) wine. I didn’t get much time to check out the shelves but will definitely be heading back. If you haven’t been it’s worth the effort, and if you’re unimpressed I guarantee the comforts of the Harrods foodhall will satisfy you.
The first thing that struck me as I entered the tasting room was the table featuring built in spittoons (and again I worried about whether I was expected to spit). We were welcomed with a choice of champagne from Duval-LeRoy, and offered the Cuvee Brut Organic or the Brut Rose NV. I have to say the Cuvee Brut Organic was divine – watch this space for the full review (or better still just buy it here!). While we tasted the Champagnes Harrods wine expert, Alex Redfern, talked us through Champagne and how it’s made.
This is what I took away in a nutshell (and please feel free to comment!)
1. Start by bottling up wine made from Champagne grapes, which may include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grape varieties from the Champagne region of France, then add some sugar and yeast to the mix.
2. As the yeast devours the sugar, CO2 is created, so you get your bubbles.
3. Once this process has finished you’re left with dead yeast known as ‘lees’.
4. Leave then Champagne for at least 15 months (for a non-vintage) to gain complexity, this gives Champagne its bready, toasty notes.
5. As it ages, the bottle is slowly turned from its side until it rests on its point, so that all the lees settles at the neck of the bottle.
6. Once you’ve aged it to your liking, the bottle is dipped into a very cold brine, and the lees pellet is ejected, leaving pure champagne inside.
7. Finally the Champagne is topped it up with a little ‘dosage’, this usually a syrup made with sugar. Brut indicates only a small amount of sugar is added and Du indicates a lot of sugar is added.
8. Cork it and voila! Delicious Champagne is ready for your next celebration!
Alex gave us some time to digest this and mingle, then talked us though a gorgeous Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc and Rupert & Rothschild red (once again full reviews to follow). Throughout the evening were treated to some very moreish platters of cheeses, olives and cold cuts from Harrods Charcuterie.
While this wasn’t a full tasting session, it did give a very good idea of what one would be like. The resident wine experts Alex Redfern and Pascal Kessedijian were absolutely lovely. The evening wasn’t uptight at all, and I think they’ve done an excellent job in finding people who love their wine and want to share their passion with similar minded enthusiasts. I didn’t feel pressured to use the spittoons at all.
Scour the events page for an evening focused on a region or wine type, and for as little as £30 you can taste some wines, enjoy some nibbles and take away a few facts to impress at your next dinner party.
For £14,360 you can enjoy a private tasting session of ‘The world’s most renowned wines’ where you can enjoy nine handpicked bottles of the best wine on the planet. If you take up this option please invite me.
Harrods offers a range of events including private dining, for more information check out the Tasting Room events page here.
The Harrods Tasting Room
Lower ground floor (go downstairs near the foodhall)